Weight training for the ladies who still want to look and feel like ladies.
Ladies, there are a few simple things to remember here. To start, building muscle isn't that easy for anyone. The three major factors that affect muscle gain (leaving gender out) are intensity, diet and execution (these are for the purpose of this article). Women produce testosterone, but in very small quantities. Test is a gender-specific factor that I won't go into enormous detail over. Test is extremely anabolic, which is why men naturally have lesser bodyfat percentages than women (on a broad scale).
That said, let's look at execution and ALL of the misconception surrounding it. High repetitions are not the best way to elicit muscle tone. Tone is muscle tightness, and not to be confused with definition. Definition comes from lesser bodyfat only. There is no biological mechanism that will allow exercise to reduce fat in a site-specific manner! NONE! Spot reduction is a myth. That's right; Belly burners, thigh blasters etc. are all shameless scams!
If someone asks you to make a muscle, you'd put your arm up and *flex* it. Flexion is contractile force, and it's the extreme end of tone (or tonus). Here it is, the first tenet.
By executing movements that concentrate on the most fully contracted portion of the movement, (generally the top of the movement, but some exercises have no real full contraction [like the squat]) it enables muscle memory. Continually contracting that muscle tells it to remain that way (and that's a very loose interpretation). Reps *can* do this, but holding the contracted portion of an exercise is far more important. Another issue I see with very high repetition regimens, is people tend to rush the movement to hit that target number. Form always suffers here. A set of ten reps done properly is better than ten sets of twenty done wrong!
Slow, deliberate movements without concentrating too heavily on the eccentric (negative) are best for anyone wanting to improve tone. By doing this, and following through the full range of motion (helping lengthen the muscle, too) muscle tone will improve. I say not concentrating too hard on the eccentric because that's the portion where most of the microtrauma (microscopic muscle tears, and THIS is the cause of muscle soreness- NOT lactic acid!) takes place. Microtrauma is the first step in increasing muscle mass. Consumption of essential fatty acids can help relieve some of the inflammation and still blunt some growth. EFAs disrupt the arachidonic acid cascade, thus blunting prostaglandin production. Sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but it's true. In this case, prostaglandins actually elicit cell growth.
Another consideration is diet. In order to build significant muscle you'd need a surplus of calories. Eating right will also help you to avoid bulking. This in itself is a gigantic subject, and it will be the subject of a following capsule. Suffice it to say for now, eating good protein sources (protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient), whole foods and good fats (mostly monounsaturated) in the right quantities, will allow you to recover from exercise, but without bulking up.
So, the following capsules will contain images, exercises and much, much more in regard to diet. All of the aforementioned have to be taken into consideration at all times!